Gareth Barry – 21 not out & still going strong

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Everton have been busy upgrading their squad over the summer, spending more money than Conor McGregor on a New York shopping spree, yet one man still remains – Gareth Barry.

Heading into his 21st consecutive Premier League season, the former England international remains a vital component of an Everton squad with top four ambitions.

A remarkable career that began as a youth at Brighton & Hove Albion, he made his senior debut for Aston Villa near the end of the 1997-98 season as a 17-year-old. To put into context how long ago that actually was, the Cup Winners’ Cup was still a European competition back then.

In fact, let’s take a bit of a walk down memory lane, to when Gareth Barry was a pimply-faced teenager taking names in the Premier League back in 97-98.

Interestingly that season, nine – yes that’s NINE – English sides qualified for European football, including Crystal Palace, despite finishing bottom, who actually went on to win the Intertoto Cup.

A quite illustrious tournament, we think you’ll agree.

Palace actually made some rather interesting signings that season. Former Sampdoria legend Atillio Lombardo landed in London alongside the infamous Tomas Brolin, whom essentially would eat himself into an early retirement. Neither could save the Eagles.

Arsenal would finish as champions that summer with Arsene Wenger becoming the first coach from outside the British and Irish Isles to win the English top flight.

In pop culture, Oasis released their third album, ‘Be Here Now’, in the opening month of that season. It would be – at the time – the fastest-selling British album of all time. Despite being panned by critics, like a fine wine, it’s arguably matured with age.

In September, England faced Moldova in a World Cup qualifier at Wembley. Sir Elton John’s Candle In The Wind would play over the PA system that would provide an emotionally-charged atmosphere to the game.

In the latter part of the season, the two biggest films of the year would be released: Armageddon and Saving Private Ryan. Still classics to this day. The former always a good shout for a first date, in our humble opinion.

If you’re of a certain vintage, you’re probably feeling particular old right now. However don’t worry too much – just imagine how ‘Gaz Baz’ feels entering his 21st season amongst young scallywags like Tom Davies and Ademola Lookman –comparatively fossilised.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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Cian Carroll

Starting life as a football columnist for his local paper in Dundalk, Cian has written for a number of media outlets with pieces published in The Birmingham Mail and Spain’s El Mundo Deportivo. A lover of football, GAA, boxing, rugby and MMA, he’s a big Aston Villa and Dundalk fan. He can be regularly spotted on various mountain tops.